Response to Matthew 5 notes


I enjoyed reading the rough translations. The beatitudes have been a

portion of scripture that I have used to meditate and chew on. As I was

meditating on them this week, after reading your exegesis, I was using

The Spiritual Formation Bible that has meditation suggestions in the

margin. It suggested to take every characteristic and try substituting

the opposite characteristic.

The following are a few of my ideas about the reversals. There may be

better terms.

poor in spirit -- those full of themselves

those who mourn -- those who hold nothing dear, so loss means nothing to


meek -- arrogant

Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness -- those who don't care

about right and wrong

the merciful -- the merciless

the pure in heart -- the evil

peacemakers -- the divisive, the critical, the invaders, the war mongers

those who are persecuted for righteousness sake -- those who will

compromise anything in order to save their skin

Then, imagine what the community would be like if all people lived this


This thinking of the effect of these people on a community, led to

considering that perhaps Jesus did not mean a personal blessing on each

group, as I thought he might. Instead, perhaps in those cases where the

tense was present, such as the first and last phrases, this was an

indication that the kingdom of God was at hand, or, in and around people

of this character. Perhaps this is a link to the scriptures about the

kingdom. Perhaps this is an indication that we can dwell in the kingdom

here on earth. This is what the people who dwell in the kingdom now

look like.

When the tense is future, perhaps the understanding might partially be

that these people bring blessings to the community. Perhaps this has

more to say about us living in community than in individual blessings.

I was intrigued in your mention of the parallel to the virtues of the

classical world. I had at one time made a table for my own instruction

of the ten commandments, the virtues and the spiritual gifts from


>From A Handbook of Theological Terms by Van A. Harvey, the virtues are:

Four natural virtues: prudence, justice,

fortitude, & temperance

Three supernatural (imparted by God): faith, hope, and charity

The second group may not be part of the classical virtues. He says these

are the virtues as taught by the RC church. However, I believe the

first four may have been described by Plato.

This led me back to the ten commandments and the texts about what it

means to be righteous. These texts may add understanding to what it

means to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and being pure in heart.